If you want to create an effective nonprofit board, you need to think about the type of leadership style it employs to oversee your organization. Too often, people assume that “managing” and “governing” are synonyms. While these two leadership styles work hand-in-hand, it is important to understand the essential differences.

Definitions: Management vs. Governance

Here is a quick overview to illustrate how governance and management are both similar, yet different:

  • Management: Defined as “the practice of directing or supervising.” When someone is managing a group of people, it means that they are exerting control, handling the details and overseeing the tasks that are completed. For example, a board typically delegates this management role to a chief executive, who is then responsible for the daily operations.
  • Governance: Defined as “distribution of legitimate authority to influence and enact policies and decisions.” Governance is the process of defining who is in charge, who has power and who holds the responsibility for essential tasks.

To put it simply: governance is the oversight of the strategic direction and future planning. Management oversees the routine decisions, such as the administrative work required for the ongoing operations and carrying out the vision of the board leadership.

Finding the Right Balance for Your Board

Unfortunately, too many boards create serious problems when there isn’t a balance between management and governance. Every organization and board are unique, which is why individual factors need to be considered.

First, the board needs to understand the importance of good leadership. The next step is the board finding the right balance of leadership styles, and building strong leadership that moves the organization in the right direction to carry out its mission most effectively.

Does your board balance its management and governance responsibilities? A strong board doesn’t get caught up in the micromanagement of required tasks. Instead, macro governance allows an independent approach that focuses on the bigger picture, instead of getting mired down in the small details and minutia of day-to-day operations.

This quote by Peter Drucker says it best: “Managing is doing things right. Governance is doing the right thing”.

At Mirenda & Associates, we are here to provide the support you need to create strong leadership in your nonprofit organization. We will work with you and your board to achieve that important balance. Our team offers over 100 years of comprehensive experience, and we’ve helped hundreds of nonprofits over the years. Contact us to learn more about developing successful, permanent programs to support the needs of your organization.